The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Goldendale's longest-married couple celebrates



67 YEARS TOGETHER: Joan and Pete Heming were married in 1949.

Goldendale's longest-married couple is Joan and Pete Heming. They were married June 3, 1949, putting them at 67 years together. They edged runners-up Ed and Vivian Weddle by a scant few months; the Weddles were married Nov. 24, 1949.

The Sentinel went searching for the area's longest-married couple for Valentine's Day. The criteria to qualify were that both partners had to still be married only to each other and both still living.

Joan Heming, 85, says it was love at first sight. "I was waiting tables in a restaurant in Wapato, and he came in," she recalls. A long pause thereafter pretty much completes the thought.

Pete, now almost 90, was recently out of the service in the wake of World War II. Joan thought the older man dashing. She also kept a small secret from him.

"He actually thought I was older than I was," she says. "He is five years older than me, and I went with him about six months before he knew that. It almost went by the roadside, because he thought I knew what I wanted, and I still had a year of school to go."

The age difference did not dissuade Pete. Joan graduated from Wapato High School on a Thursday and got married on Friday, the very next day.

"We waited all that time," she says. "I had to finish my senior year." She refers to the tenacious determination of spirit behind them as "fighting power." "I tell [Pete], 'You know, my parents bossed me; I never got to boss myself. Then I got married the next night, and you have bossed me, so I have never been my own boss.' But that is fighting power. He really gets mad." The comment has a teasing ring to it as she chuckles after saying it.

She can see the next question coming a mile away, and predictable as it is, it has to be asked: what is the secret to staying married that long? She rolls with it. "The secret to staying married that long is, first God. Then, to have a relationship together. And we have never did anything like buy something big-he and I have always agreed to that before we did it. We have just had a close relationship, a wonderful marriage all those years. It still is. He is getting older now; he is almost 90, but that is fighting power. We just stayed together because we have just did everything together all of our life"-a telling use of two lives in a singular reference-"and never lied to each other, and I think you have to have a marriage like that. He has been a wonderful, good man all his life."

The grandson of Pete and Joan wrote the following tribute:


Ever since I was a boy, it was where I loved to go

Where my parents both were from, where I’ll someday make my home

Four miles outside of town, tucked way back in the Pines

A little piece of heaven, an outdoorsman’s paradise

Grammy got the breakfast Poppy got the eggs

We’d have a cup of coffee then play around all day

My worries weren’t so many, the time it slowly passed

I’d ride my old three wheeler till it run out of gas

My cousins were my sisters we’d always have big fun

We’d wait all year for summer, for when I’d get to come

My friends back then were many my struggles yet were few

I’d buck the bales, mend the fence, just like real cowboys do

I learned to work and how to dream, learned how to play and write

Catch a wish on shooting stars that passed by in the night

One day I’ll build a home up there, way on up at the top

Raise cows and pigs and chickens and may even grow a crop

I’ll sit out in the breezy shade and let time slowly pass

Ride my old three wheeler and keep it full on gas

We’ll get ourselves some goats and find ourselves a horse

And raise a little family with lots of kids of course

And someday maybe soon, they all will know the tale

Of the boy from Spokane Washington and his love for Goldendale

by Keesy Timmer


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